Shinigami’s Secret Maneuvers
“Hahan, easy, easy”
Slipping through Royal Guards’ watch I smoothly crept inside the castle.
I safely completed my master servant oath with Princess and devoted myself to vigorously gathering information. Unfortunately, I barely know anything about this country. That’s not allowed as someone supporting my master.
I felt like staying at her side as much as possible, but not being able to assist her would disgrace Hiyuma clan. It seems the guards of Princess’s residence are fairly capable, so I trusted them and moved independently to do various things.
And as I was investigating, I came to understand there are many vague aspects about this country.
I especially don’t understand the royalty.
No matter how much I investigate, I’m unable to gather information past a certain unnatural degree. My master will become royalty, so I wanted to investigate what I could, but obtaining more information seems difficult. I gave up on that and focused on gathering other information.
One day. Lurking above the ceiling, I overheard Princess’s conversation, the topic was going to the castle to welcome her fiancé tomorrow.
Princess’s fiancé is this country’s Crown Prince.
He’s a man called Flawless Crown Prince, at any rate his strength seems outside norm. This man always stands at the frontline during wartime. I only heard rumors about him in Sahaja.
It’s because of this Crown Prince that Sahaja’s King doesn’t think of attacking this country.
The Wilhelm Kingdom, called the Eastern Power is blessed with its climate. What’s most enviable is that there hasn’t been a single major natural disaster since the founding of the country.
Sahaja, that’s mostly covered in desert, covets this land. Still, they don’t reach out for it, because the Crown Prince can face an army ten thousand strong alone. Ten thousand, alone. It’s terrifying even when taken with a grain of salt.
Princess visiting the castle came just at the right time. I also want to investigate the Royal Castle once, and see this strong Crown Prince. Having informed Princess that I’d infiltrate beforehand I managed to sneak in on the very same day.
I slipped through darkness as to not make a sound with my footsteps. Sometimes hiding above the ceiling, sometimes hiding in a pillar’s shadow, I walked all around the castle.
Due to obtaining Princess as my master through contract, I can use Hiyuma’s secret art at any time. Unlike ordinary magical arts, Hiyuma’s secret art’s magic formation is engraved directly into the eye, its strong point is that the activation time is almost zero. It can be simply invoked by making a sign with my hands.
When moving with the secret art would attract attention, I freely used the technique to blend myself with a wall.
Using the secret art, the range of possible actions increased. Even without it sneaking into castles is my specialty, but it’s the fact it’s much easier like this. I felt like humming or even singing since I managed to grasp the place accurately.
“Err, that way are royalty’s quarters…”
I walked while drawing a map in my head. It’s already middle of the night.
The inside of the castle fell completely silent. There are only several patrolling Royal Guards.
But, for people like me, it’s the easiest to move at this time.
It’s simple to hide my figure, and ultimately middle of the night is the best time for assassination. Humans are most vulnerable in their sleep.
There are no Palace Guards where I’m walking right now. Perhaps they’ll patrol here later, but it’s okay for now. I was slowly walking looking around.
Suddenly I felt a little bloodlust and looked back.
Of course there’s nobody there. Usually you’d think it’s just your imagination.
But, I know. This distinctive bloodlust I felt for an instant… I know it’s the same kind of people as me.
―――― The same kind of people as me in this place.
While thinking what I should do, I called out to them.
“… Oi, who do you all belong to? I know you’re there. Come out”
While tapping on the grip of the dagger hanging on my waist, I spoke to provoke them. I have a rough idea where they’re hiding from the bloodlust a moment ago.
Since I looked at that direction specifically to make them understand I know their whereabouts, perhaps having given up a single man appeared from the shadow.
… Only one person, huh.
There were multiple presences, but only one person came out.
We faced each other in silence.
The man’s clothes are clinging tightly to his body.
He has dark skin I recognize, that’s unlike this country’s.
“… You are Sahaja’s assassin, huh”
As I spat that out, the man looked at me puzzledly.
It’s a mystery why. But, as soon as he saw me, his eyes opened wide in astonishment.
“You… no way, Red Shinigami? Why are you here? Shouldn’t you be dead!!”
My eyebrows twitched at these words.
I’m not very happy with the nickname ‘Red Shinigami’.
To know about it, they’re certainly people of Sahaja’s assassin guild.
I understood which guild he belongs to by noticing a black scarf wrapped around his waist.
“Hmph. So you’re ‘Black’, huh. Why is ‘Black’ in this place?”
“It’s irrelevant to you”
With the man glaring at me, I lowered my posture and placed a hand on my waist.
While doing so I surveyed the surroundings.
… There’s still more… One behind me. Two in the ceiling. Another one behind a pillar.
It seems to be a considerably large scale operation.
Normally, assassination is carried out by a single person. Of course, there are those who hire multiple people for certainty, but it’s not a usual thing. The cost is immense, and it hurts assassins’ pride.
If I were to say, it’s as good as being told that you alone can’t be trusted.
For men who pride themselves in their work it’s an unforgivable affront.
That’s why I was surprised ‘Black’ came.
‘Black’ was a top guild alongside the now non-existent ‘Red’.
There was a client who was allowed to treat the prideful ‘Black’ this way.
The first person who came to my mind was Sahaja’s King.
Since the King tried to personally employ ‘Red’, it’s no wonder he turned to ‘Black’ after ‘Red’ was destroyed. I don’t know what he’s trying to do by expressly using ‘Black’.
“I don’t know who you’re tryin’ to kill and I don’t care…. Could you not disturb me?”
Then I’ll ignore you, I implied.
As long as Princess isn’t in danger, I don’t care who they kill. They can do as they like. It’s not like I’m not interested in who that king wants killed or what he’s scheming, but as I don’t care about things other than my master, I easily stopped my questioning.
However, it seemed impossible for the ‘Black’ bunch.
“… Don’t think we’ll believe what Red Shinigami says”
“Ah, I see… What. You just want to die”
The corners of my lips lifted.
Even though I was generous enough to let them escape, the man pointed a blade at me.
It’s so stupid I laughed.
Since Princess wanted me to avoid killing, I didn’t kill them immediately, but it seems it was pretty much meaningless.
If it’s like this, I have no choice but to kill.
It was the other side that pointed a blade at me first. In other words, it’s legitimate self-defense. In addition――――.
―――― Princess said ‘don’t kill Royal Guards’.
I wasn’t told to not kill assassins.
Because orders from master are absolute, it’s necessary to confirm the surroundings.
… Yup, no problem.
I thought back upon Princess’s words and nodded. And with natural movements, took out a knife and threw it towards the man.
“Weak. Boring. You should’ve avoided that”
With a thud the man fell down.
Killing in one blow. Targeting vital points. Being in assassination business, one versus many happened many times. Hence, I decided to bring down enemies with single blows. It’s troublesome if they get up after I think I brought them down.
When I easily brought down the man, I drew my sword and stabbed behind me with all my strength. With that action, my sword pierced the stomach of the man who was trying to slash at me from behind.
The man behind me crumbled down without saying anything.
I moved my shoulder to shake off blood with a sweeping strike. What, ‘Black’ isn’t that big of a deal.
“You three are left? It’s troublesome, so come together. I don’t have spare time”
At my provocation the remaining 3 showed up.
Seeing the three slash at me, my mouth warped.
“You’re 100 years too early to win against me who found his master”
As I brought down the last one, I wiped my favorite sword clean. I was a little worried about cleaning up the dead bodies, but I decided to leave them alone. From the start it’s them who invaded the castle. There’s no reason for me to deal with them. It’ll become a nice story of allies killing each other.
After easily suppressing the assassin’s assault, I once again started exploring the castle.
Although fighting after a long time didn’t feel bad, it was unfortunately unsatisfactory.
If it’s like that, I want to fight a stronger opponent.
“Even if they say they’re ‘Black’, those guys were underlings…”
It’s the same as the ‘Red’ Guild I belonged to. Of course, there many strong people compared to other guilds, but it’s undeniable there are some people who lack ability.
Naturally, just as I had a nickname in ‘Red’, there’s a similar person in ‘Black’.
If it’s like that, I’d like to fight him.
I recalled his nickname.
“What was it, certainly, his name was ‘Black Apostate’…”
It’s as embarrassing as my ‘Shinigami’ name.
The person on top of ‘Black’ guild is a man.
He seems to dress in black priest’s clothes by choice, and to always wear a rosary with an inverted cross.
It’s about all I know about his appearance.
While I was working there I could have obtained more information, but it can’t be helped since I didn’t care.
This Apostate’s work is very famous in Sahaja.
The reason is simple.
His targets are bound to lose heads.
Every corpse is discovered headless. No exceptions.
I don’t know why he’s doing that, it seems to be his style ever since becoming an assassin.
I guess he brings them back as a definite proof of kill, but I think that’s insane.
Even guild assassins who by chance witness his headhunting, or rather executions, consider them needlessly cruel.
I’ve never met him, but he’s a man with a couple loose screws.
I ignored that I’ve been given a name ‘Shinigami’ for now.
In my case, it seems it came from the story that “Only corpses remain after he passes by”, but I think that’s truly awful.
As an assassin, even if it’s troublesome killing everybody is the norm.
I only did the natural thing, so I’d like if everybody stopped looking at me like I’m a devil.
“Rather, in the end who were they trying to kill?”
Sure, as long as it’s not Princess it’s fine, but it’s not like who’s the target isn’t on my mind.
Fundamentally, our guilds rarely accept work outside the country.
Of course, excellent people like myself get assassination tasks for important people of foreign countries, but these are rare occurrences.
As far as I investigated, there isn’t an important person of Sahaja in this country right now that assassins would target.
So, it’s easy to understand the target is from this country, but who the hell is that?
“… Should I have tortured and made them spit it out before killing them?”
Since it was troublesome, I finished them, but I may have been too hasty.
If by any chance the person is connected to Princess, I can’t ignore it.
I don’t even know for sure who their employer is.
I guessed it’s Sahaja’s King on my own, but it’s not necessarily correct.
It’s impossible to cast away the possibility that it’s Sahaja’s prominent noble.
“Ah, jeez!! I don’t get it all!!”
I roughly scratched my hair with both hands.
Who and for what reason targeted whom. Everything is unclear.
“I wonder if old man could solve this in a flash…”
I remembered my father who parted with me when I was 8.
In my young mind, father was a mighty patriarch, in my image of him he could resolve any difficulty at once. As he led the clan, all members unanimously followed after him.
“… I’m still at the starting point. I haven’t accomplished anything… My head, my power, they’re not enough at all”
There’s no one left anymore.
And as the patriarch’s son I completely inherited the secret art.
Since my strength is truly insufficient so I wish to rely on my elders.
I’m sure I don’t hold a candle to my father.
I understand that.
But still, I can’t help it.
“I have no choice but to do it”
For my master.
And if that’s not enough, I have to put in every effort. I have to make up for it in different way.
Sahaja’s assassins. Princess who’s my master.
The order of priorities is clear without even thinking about it.
I can’t care about everything. Even if I forcibly try, things will just slip through my fingers.
In that case, I must take care so that what’s important doesn’t slip through them.
And, naturally it’s my master, Princess, who I mustn’t lose.
“Tch… It can’t be helped. Let’s forget it for now”
Princess’s safety comes first. I couldn’t stand if something happened to Princess because I was preoccupied with unrelated matters.
Fortunately, no matter how I look at it, the assassination target this time wasn’t Princess.
If they were aiming at Princess, they should have aimed when she was in the ducal residence.
At least I would.
As long as the target isn’t Princess, I mustn’t be concerned with what’s beyond my capacities.
“Hiyuma exist for their masters”
Even though I understand now, it seems I can never relax in the Royal Castle.
Princess is coming to the castle tomorrow, my utmost caution is necessary.
I absolutely cannot put her in danger.
“… Should I rethink the route to guard Princess”
Considering Princess’s route tomorrow, where should I guard her from.
I thought about it roughly before, but I need to investigate more thoroughly.
“Ain’t no choice, Princess’s safety is indispensable…”
To examine the details of the castle once again, with a sigh I disappeared from the spot blending into darkness.